This painting depicts a bountiful assortment of fruit presented on a tabletop with an elaborate carved-edge molding and a highly polished surface in which the arrangement is mirrored. Dunning presents the fruit against a neutral background, in a counterbalanced group assembled around a large, luxurious cluster of green grapes, with each piece placed so that none repeats the position of another. The composition is bathed in warm colors and enhanced by the interplay of ambient light and shadow, with the glistening surfaces of various textures painted with the compelling accuracy that was a trademark of the artist.
Dunning first incorporated the open orange into his still life paintings of the 1860s and it was quickly copied by other artists of the Fall River School, most notably by his student Bryant Chapin (1859-1927), who is erroneously credited with the introduction. Dunning was the undisputed master at realistically – indeed, almost photographically – depicting the contrasting textures of the skin, pith, and juicy flesh of an orange, and his prodigious skill is evident in this work.
This painting has had an interesting journey. Painted in Dunning’s Fall River studio in 1882, it was contemporaneously acquired by a Rhode Island collector; it remained with that family until the third quarter of the twentieth century when a direct descendant had the painting shipped from Rhode Island to Australia. It returned to Fall River 140 years later, in 2022, when it was acquired at auction by the Fall River Historical Society.